We live in a society driven by innovative technology and instant gratifications. Nearly 60 years ago, people in society did not have the pleasure to engage in different forms of technology, to use various social media applications and stay connected virtually over a period of time. The Internet was in its early stages and Web 2.0 was a new idea. Thus, Americans growing in the 1970s relied on face-to-face communication with their parents, friends, professors and co-workers to name a few. This generation of people up until the the early 2000s did not have “distractions” from true forms of communication. In Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Sherry Turkle argued that “we live in a technological world in which we are always communicating and yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection” (Turkle, 1).
As society continued to change, technology began change. Technology created different alternatives to how people communicated and interacted with one another. As the Internet became popular, different media outlets incorporated the Internet to their everyday life of communication. The Internet began to alter the business models of media companies as well. Over time, with those changes, people began to see the power of the Internet and what it offered them in terms of engagement and communication.
Turkle feels that people in today’s society are distracted by innovative technology. As such, people do not communicate like they once did (e.g. face-to-face communication). Growing up in the digital age, my first true “distraction” as Turkle argues was AOL instant messenger and Yahoo messenger apps. Early in my middle school years, I would come home from school on the bus, start my homework and engage in conversation with some of my friends on these particular instant messaging sites. At the time, I did not think it was a distraction because I still communicated with these same people on a daily basis. Now, nearly 11 years later, I still do not think using alternative forms of communication are distractions from truly communicating with someone. When you look communication and how it has changed overtime, one must look the individual personality and the way in which he or she feels most comfortable in communicating with someone.
For example, I think one must look at whether or not a person is an introvert or an extrovert when looking at communication. For those who identify as introverts, they tend to be more shy in reaching out and talking with others on a daily basis. They tend to stay to themselves. Thus, in reference to Turkle’s argument, I would expect introverts to use social media or technology more the communicate with others. On the other hand, extroverts are different. These people can fully engage in face-to-face communication but also use social media and technology to communicate with others as well.
Overall, in my opinion, technology alone is not distraction for all in regards to communication. People do not talk face to face, meet in person to discuss important matters or to engage in fun like previous generations did. As we have read in books and as we have seen over period of time in society, new and improved technology changes the way we do things. For example, the Industrial Revolution brought powerful impacts to society. With new changes in the realm of transportation and everyday necessities (e.g. clothing, electricity, patent inventions, department stores) during the Industrial Revolution changed the way Americans communicated, interacted and maneuvered in society.
Fast forward to today’s society, the use of innovative technology in place of face-to-face communication is no different. Technology has allowed people a new way to communicate with one another. Even more, new technology has also allowed one to incorporate aspects of face-to-face communication (e.g. Skype, FaceTime) while not being physically in person with someone. Thus, as Turkle argues, this is an example why kids and many people in my generation stay connected to mobile devices and tablets.
Turkle argues that face-to-face communication helps us to find out more about our personal solitude, allows us to self reflect own things in our lives and allows us to build a stronger sense of understanding with our family members, friends, co-workers, professors and etc. I believe that her argument is very compelling. Face-to-face communication will never go away. As technology continues to become more innovative, it will continue to serve as an important piece to communicating with others in society.